This Week: Good news/Bad news

Plus a week in the life of Amanda Rodrigues

Annamay PierseFace of the week
Annamay Pierse sets a world record in the 200-m breaststroke semi-final at the world championship. She won silver in the final.

Amanda RodriguesA week in the life of Amanda Rodrigues
The widow and one-time suspect in the death of Montreal boxing champ Arturo Gatti was released from a Brazilian prison after his hanging July 11 at a seaside resort was ruled a suicide. A second autopsy, conducted last week at the request of his family, revealed bruises missed in the first examination. The family has also questioned why Gatti changed his will three weeks before his death. The new will makes Rodrigues the sole beneficiary of his estate.


Bye-bye Karlheinz
We’ll not have Karlheinz Schreiber to kick around anymore, thank goodness. The former arms broker and Airbus lobbyist was hustled onto a jet back to Germany Monday to face charges of tax evasion and bribery, after an Ontario court rejected the last of 10 years of attempts to block his extradition. He leaves behind disturbing questions about cash payments he made to former prime minister Brian Mulroney. Schreiber’s evasive answers on that front only served to stall his departure and prolong the scandal. Perhaps he’ll be more forthcoming in a German court.

Free at last
Two American journalists held in North Korea since March were freed Tuesday, apparently after a private visit by former U.S. president Bill Clinton. Laura Ling and Euna Lee had been sentenced to hard labour after allegedly entering the country illegally. Leader Kim Jong Il issued an order freeing the women as a sign of the state’s “humanitarian and peace-loving policy.” It’s not clear what role Clinton played in the release. Among those who have lobbied fruitlessly on their behalf is Hillary Clinton, the U.S. secretary of state. The ex-president’s apparent success may raise issues of a very domestic nature.

Picture this
A divided Supreme Court of Canada made the right call last week in ruling that a group of Alberta Hutterites have no religious right to driver’s licences without photographs. The province made photos mandatory in 2003 so facial recognition software could prevent fraud and identity theft. The Hutterites believe photos are “graven images,” prohibited by the Second Commandment. The Hutterite colony is threatening to leave the province, which would be unfortunate. And where would they go? Photo ID, indeed photo surveillance, is near universal. Freedom of religion is a right, the court ruled. Driving is a privilege—one trumped in this case by the security needs of the larger society.

Sharing the wealth
A University of B.C. study found that children raised in economically mixed neighbourhoods are better prepared for kindergarten. “Both affluent and lower-income families benefit from each other’s presence,” says sociologist Richard Carpiano. Though reasons aren’t clear, child development scores dropped in neighbourhoods where the rich outnumber the poor. This is another reason to applaud Vancouver council’s decision to allow “garden cottages”—suites the size of garages. While cramped, laneway housing gives lower income folks a chance to live in Canada’s most expensive city, enriching the whole community.


B.C. is burning
A hot dry summer, lightning strikes and a suspected serial arsonist have contributed to a disastrous forest fire season in the province. Hundreds of new wildfires erupted over the B.C. Day long weekend, forcing more than 5,000 people from their homes in West Kelowna, Lillooet, Seton Portage, Alexis Creek, Bella Coola and Brookmere. Compounding the problem, Vancouver police have been forced to step up patrols in B.C.’s Stanley Park, after four fires in the sprawling oceanside park were deliberately set. News that the tinder-dry park has been targeted by an arsonist has enraged residents.

Foul play
Another of baseball’s signature moments is tainted by cheating. The New York Times reported that Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003—a year before they helped the Boston Red Sox win their first World Series Championship in 86 years. Hall of Famer Hank Aaron wants an asterisk in the record books beside those whose achievements are tied to steroids. With some 100 players testing positive, the * may lose its shameful impact. Other reports say baseball commissioner Bud Selig may lift the lifetime ban against Pete Rose, imposed 20 years ago after Rose bet on the Cincinnati Reds while he was managing the team. Selig would send the wrong message: cheaters will be forgiven if they wait long enough.

ETA & IRA won’t RIP
Two Spanish bomb attacks in two days show the Basque terrorist movement ETA hasn’t given up its bloody quest for a separate homeland. Sixty people were injured in a blast outside a police barracks in Burgos, and two policemen died in a car bombing on the island of Majorca. Violence has escalated since a ceasefire collapsed in 2007. There are also cracks in the IRA’s 12-year-old peace pact in Northern Ireland. A second member of the Real IRA, opposed to the ceasefire, was arrested last week for the murders of two off-duty British soldiers in March, the first such deaths in a dozen years.

Too much info
Our federal politicians have taken to Twitter, and their micro-bursts of thought are often dishwater dull, as the Hill Times discovered. Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh was house hunting in Vancouver when hit with the notion that homes are becoming unaffordable. Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant went for an eight-kilometre run to work off three Canada Day breakfasts. Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt was at a water park where her kids “had a blast.” Yawn, back to work, folks.